Updated August 2, 2017 9:11 a.m.
Oklahoma County District Attorney, David Prater, dropped all felony charges against State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on Tuesday.
Prater charged Hofmeister with four felony counts in November 2016, alleging she had colluded with a “dark money” group during her 2014 campaign for state superintendent. Two of the charges were for accepting illegal donations, and the other two were for conspiring to break campaign finance laws.
Hofmeister said she is grateful, and has been innocent all along.
“For nine months I have had to conduct my life in the shadow of unjust and untrue accusation,” she said. “But I knew the truth. I knew I was innocent.”
In the online filing Prater noted that the charges were being dismissed “pending further investigation.”
Hofmeister’s lawyer, Gary Wood, said he doesn’t know what that means.
“All we know is what is written in the dismissal,” he said. “I’m not sure what investigation would be ongoing after three years. I mean this is a case that’s been out there for three years, and you would think the investigation would be complete prior to the filing of charges rather than ongoing at this time after charges were filed.”
Prater dropped charges against the four others involved in the case as well, but when asked specifically if the case could be refiled, he said, “Yes.”
Prater told The Oklahoman that his office has received additional information regarding one or more of the defendants over the past couple months, and that he needs to follow up on that information before taking the case to a preliminary hearing.
The 28-page affidavit that Prater originally filed, alleged members of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and the Oklahoma Education Association worked with Hofmeister to funnel money from a donor corporation – American Fidelity—into the “dark money” group, Oklahomans for Public School Excellence. The "dark money" group then used the funds to finance a negative campaign ad against then-opponent Janet Barresi.
State law prohibits candidates from collaborating with dark money groups because they do not have to disclose their donors and can spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns. Candidates, however cannot receive contributions in excess of $5,000, and must reveal who their donors are.